Fort Triumph could be called “fantasy XCOM,”” but I don’t think this phrase gives it enough credit. Sure, it looks similar to a fantasy XCOM when you see clips of the gameplay. Swords and sorcery heroes against hordes of goblins and ogres in a tactical, character-based setting could feel like a brightly colored reskin of Enemy Unknown, but the designers of Fort Triumph moved a few steps beyond so simple an idea as that. Fort Triumph LTD (a company so new it hasn’t released anything else in the past) in Tel Aviv has begun to plant the seeds of a self-aware adventure that more perfectly mirrors my actual tabletop gaming experience than most video games can even come close to. Setting up a Kickstarter for a goal of $75,000, they’ve already supplied a demo that’s been Greenlit on Steam, and their team of ten designers and developers has been working on the project for nearly two years. Only a year of it has been worked full-time, and the goal intends to allow them the pleasure of continuing to work full-time on it. They intend to release Fort Triumph completely in 2018.
The first major difference you might notice is the combat system. Certainly, you can shoot your bows and magic missiles at the enemy all day and fight them like you would in any other tactical RPG or strategy game, but in Fort Triumph the focus isn’t merely on your normal combat. Much of the fights revolve around a procedure generated level full of cover that can be exploited as more than simply an arrow shield for your soft team members. If you’ve got a melee character in the field, you can kick your cover away from you and bash it into the face of whoever happens to be on the other side, creating a chain reaction of forcing your opponents against walls or into the attack range of your other characters. You could knock a goblin into a much larger enemy to stun them both, or potentially throw your enemy into a burning tree you set up for exactly that purpose.
As you can see, the options are, even in such an early state, quite fantastic. Situational awareness, the ability to line up a field like a professional pool player and setting off a series of stunning kicks that can eradicate everyone in the field in one huge, efficient attack is something I’ve seen rarely in tactical games and certainly not outside of ambushing people in XCOM 2. Even then, this isn’t merely setting up behind cover and shooting people as they move, you’re actively transforming sections of the map into burning warzones so you can kick your diminutive goblin opponents into them. The first time I used a grappling hook arrow to pull a lamp post down on top of an enemy, I knew this was a winning idea that could change how later turn-based games will operate.
Besides the creative new ideas in regards to manipulating the battlefield, after trying the demo, I bore witness to the team’s hilarious writing. Each character is a stereotype of the classic RPG classes, and they appear to be aware of this fact. Upon fighting goblins, much of my Rogue’s desire to murder the bad guys stemmed from a really bad interior decorating decision made by the goblin boss. My mage was mainly in the fight in order to complete college so she wouldn’t have to move back in with her parents. Even the side monsters you fight have character, like the well-read ogre that argues against the collection of wealth because it leads to greed and violence. In just a few missions, the game has already lampshaded the classic tropes of each boss fight ending with the dying words of “my master has an even greater army!” on their lips. On a later mission, you end up working alongside a goblin leader because if you kill his boss he won’t have to hurt the nearby village anymore.
I’m only just scratching the surface of the fun here, and I feel like the developers, small as they are, are only scratching the surface of their creative potential. They intend to address backer concerns with a series of votes based on what features will be included depending on how much of a budget they have. For now, the idea of multiplayer is far in the future, but something they will be putting up for a community vote, along with ideas for mobile platform support.
It’s still early in development, despite the fluid and well-made demo, which means the risks for growing and building a budget are mostly limited by how much exposure Fort Triumph can get. Because this is a new company, it’s possible they are not confident about what processes of the game-making process will cost, and, of course, with exposure comes a more demanding following. An eager young company might attempt to do too much to change the face of strategy games, over-expanding until collapse. The gaming world has already felt the effects of promising too much, and when you’re directly involved in the community, you might feel the need to provide more than you actually can. This is especially true when you’re brand new to the gaming terrain and haven’t shared detailed plans for the use of your money, which is the case of Fort Triumph LTD’s financial section of the Kickstarter. It’s safe to say the company isn’t short on the naivete of developing and selling a popular PC game in the bloated indie market.
Still, after testing the demo for myself, I can already feel my own ideas forming for manipulating the battlefield and kicking skeletons into fires. The goal has reached $25,000 of the required $75,000, and though there are no stretch goals yet, offering 20$ will get you a copy of the game if or when it releases. with no hints of them in the future, I gladly look forward to another strategy experience wishing I hadn’t allowed my paladin to wander into the line of fire, and if you do too, make sure to visit the Kickstarter to give Fort Triumph a chance in the remaining days before the campaign closes on May 23.